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FEATURING MIGUEL TINKER SALAS – The situation in Venezuela is tense to say the least. After opposition leader Juan Guaido swore himself in as interim President on Wednesday, a number of world leaders rushed to recognize him, including those in the US, Canada, Brazil, and more. The actual President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, started his second 6-year term only a few weeks ago.

Maduro angrily denounced the US for backing a coup against his nation, and issued ultimatums to US diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours. He has good reason to fear US intervention given the history of Washington-backed coup attempts. But Maduro’s rule has been rocked by weeks of mass protests – a culmination of a crisis years in the making. Hyperinflation on the order of a million percent has led to serious food shortages and record numbers of Venezuelans have fled the country.

So far the Venezuelan military has backed Maduro’s government. It is possible that opposition leader Guaido will conduct a parallel but powerless government that is recognized by some members of the international community while Maduro attempts to shore up his base.

Miguel Tinker Salas is a Professor of Latin American History and Chicano/a Latino/a Studies at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He has written several books including The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture and Citizenship in Venezuela, and Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know, and co-edited Venezuela, Hugo Chavez and the Decline of an Exceptional Democracy.

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